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CEO, Shein

The world’s largest online-only fashion retailer wasn’t founded by a fashion designer but by an SEO expert. Chris Xu’s company Shein disrupted H&M and Zara’s hold on fast fashion by responding in real time to fashion trends on social media, with thousands of new daily offerings on its app. Shein, which displaced Amazon as the most-downloaded shopping app in the U.S. in May 2021, engages shoppers with gamified characteristics cribbed straight from Chinese e-commerce. Despite Shein’s viral success, Xu has done his best to stay out of the spotlight. When declining one Chinese reporter’s interview request, he threatened a lawsuit. And though rumors of a U.S. listing have circulated repeatedly, its big-name investors, including Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global, have kept quiet on the company, reportedly valued at $100 billion.

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